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Section 1.

14

1.14 Tensor Calculus I: Tensor Fields


In this section, the concepts from the calculus of vectors are generalised to the calculus of
higher-order tensors.

1.14.1

Tensor-valued Functions

Tensor-valued functions of a scalar


The most basic type of calculus is that of tensor-valued functions of a scalar, for example
the time-dependent stress at a point, S S(t ) . If a tensor T depends on a scalar t, then
the derivative is defined in the usual way,
dT
T(t t ) T(t )
,
lim t 0
dt
t

which turns out to be


dT dTij

ei e j
dt
dt

(1.14.1)

The derivative is also a tensor and the usual rules of differentiation apply,
d
T B dT dB
dt
dt
dt
d
(t )T dT d T
dt
dt
dt
d
Ta T da dT a
dt
dt dt
d
TB T dB dT B
dt
dt
dt

d T dT
T

dt
dt

For example, consider the time derivative of QQ T , where Q is orthogonal. By the


product rule, using QQ T I ,

d
dQ T
dQ T dQ T
dQ
QQ T
Q Q
Q Q

0
dt
dt
dt
dt
dt
Thus, using Eqn. 1.10.3e

Q T Q Q
T Q
QT
Q

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(1.14.2)

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Section 1.14

Q T is a skew-symmetric tensor.
which shows that Q

1.14.2

Vector Fields

The gradient of a scalar field and the divergence and curl of vector fields have been seen
in 1.6. Other important quantities are the gradient of vectors and higher order tensors
and the divergence of higher order tensors. First, the gradient of a vector field is
introduced.
The Gradient of a Vector Field
The gradient of a vector field is defined to be the second-order tensor
grada

a
a
e j i ei e j
x j
x j

Gradient of a Vector Field

(1.14.3)

In matrix notation,
a1

x1
a
grada 2
x
a1
3
x1

a1
x 2
a 2
x 2
a3
x 2

a1

x3
a 2
x3
a3
x3

(1.14.4)

One then has

grada dx

ai
e i e j dxk e k
x j
ai
dx j e i
x j

(1.14.5)

da
a(x dx) a(dx)
which is analogous to Eqn 1.6.10 for the gradient of a scalar field. As with the gradient
of a scalar field, if one writes dx as dx e , where e is a unit vector, then

da
grada e
dx in e direction

(1.14.6)

Thus the gradient of a vector field a is a second-order tensor which transforms a unit
vector into a vector describing the gradient of a in that direction.

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Section 1.14

As an example, consider a space curve parameterised by s, with unit tangent vector


dx / ds (see 1.6.2); one has

da a dx j a

e j
e j grada .

x j

ds x j ds x j

Although for a scalar field grad is equivalent to , note that the gradient defined in
1.14.3 is not the same as a . In fact,

a T

grada

(1.14.7)

since
a ei

a j

a je j
ei e j
xi
xi

(1.14.8)

These two different definitions of the gradient of a vector, ai / x j e i e j and

a j / xi e i e j , are both commonly used. In what follows, they will be distinguished by


labeling the former as grada (which will be called the gradient of a) and the latter as
a.
Note the following:
in much of the literature, a is written in the contracted form a , but the more
explicit version is used here.
some authors define the operation of on a vector or tensor not as in 1.14.8, but
through / xi e i so that a grada ai / x j ei e j .
Example (The Displacement Gradient)

Consider a particle p 0 of a deforming body at position X (a vector) and a neighbouring


point q 0 at position dX relative to p 0 , Fig. 1.14.1. As the material deforms, these two
particles undergo displacements of, respectively, u(X) and u ( X dX) . The final
positions of the particles are p f and q f . Then

dx dX u( X dX) u( X)
dX du( X)
dX gradu dX

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Section 1.14

initial

q0

u ( X dX )

dX

p0

qf
u ( X)

dx
pf

final

Figure 1.14.1: displacement of material particles


Thus the gradient of the displacement field u encompasses the mapping of (infinitesimal)
line elements in the undeformed body into line elements in the deformed body. For
example, suppose that u1 kX 22 , u 2 u 3 0 . Then

0 2kX 2
u i
gradu
0
0
X j
0
0

0
0 2kX 2 e1 e 2
0

A line element dX dX i e i at X X i e i maps onto


dx dX 2kX 2 e1 e 2 dX 1e1 dX 2 e 2 dX 3 e 3
dX 2kX 2 dX 2 e1
The deformation of a box is as shown in Fig. 1.14.2. For example, the vector dX de 2
(defining the left-hand side of the box) maps onto dx 2k de1 e 2 .

X2

final

X1
Figure 1.14.2: deformation of a box
Note that the map dX dx does not specify where in space the line element moves to.
It translates too according to x X u .

The Divergence and Curl of a Vector Field

The divergence and curl of vectors have been defined in 1.6.6, 1.6.8. Now that the
gradient of a vector has been introduced, one can re-define the divergence of a vector
independent of any coordinate system: it is the scalar field given by the trace of the
gradient {Problem 4},

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Section 1.14

diva tr (grada) grad a : I a

Divergence of a Vector Field (1.14.9)

Similarly, the curl of a can be defined to be the vector field given by twice the axial
vector of the antisymmetric part of grad a .

1.14.3

Tensor Fields

A tensor-valued function of the position vector is called a tensor field, Tijk (x) .
The Gradient of a Tensor Field

The gradient of a second order tensor field T is defined in a manner analogous to that of
the gradient of a vector, Eqn. 1.14.2. It is the third-order tensor
grad T

Tij
T
ek
ei e j e k
x k
x k

Gradient of a Tensor Field (1.14.10)

This differs from the quantity


T ei

T jk

ei e j ek
T jk e j e k
xi
xi

(1.14.11)

The Divergence of a Tensor Field

Analogous to the definition 1.14.9, the divergence of a second order tensor T is defined to
be the vector
div T grad T : I

Tij
x j

(T jk e j e k )
T
ei
ei
xi
xi

Divergence of a Tensor (1.14.12)

ei

The divergence of a tensor can also be equivalently defined as that vector field which
satisfies the relation

divT v divT T v
for all constant vectors v.
One also has
T ei

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T ji

(T jk e j e k )
ei
xi
x j

119

(1.14.13)

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Section 1.14

so that
divT T T

(1.14.14)

As with the gradient of a vector, both Tij / x j e i and T ji / x j e i are commonly used
as definitions of the divergence of a tensor. They are distinguished here by labelling the
former as divT (called here the divergence of T) and the latter as T . Note that the
operations divT and T are equivalent for the case of T symmetric.
Note the following
some authors define the operation of on a vector or tensor not as in (1.14.13),
but through / xi ei so that T divT Tij / x j ei .

using the convention that the dot is omitted in the contraction of tensors, one should
write T for T , but the dot is retained here because of the familiarity of this latter
notation from vector calculus.
another operator is the Hessian, 2 / xi x j e i e j .

Identities

Here are some important identities involving the gradient, divergence and curl
{Problem 5}:
gradv gradv v grad
gradu v gradu v gradv u
div u v grad u v (div v )u
T

(1.14.15)

curlu v udivv vdivu gradu v gradv u

divA Agrad divA


divAv v divA T tr Agradv
divAB AdivB gradA : B
divAB divAB ABgrad
gradA gradA A grad

(1.11.16)

Note also the following identities, which involve the Laplacian of both vectors and
scalars:
2 u v 2 u v 2gradu : gradv u 2 v
curl curl u graddiv u 2 u

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(1.14.17)

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Section 1.14

1.14.4

Cylindrical and Spherical Coordinates

Cylindrical and spherical coordinates were introduced in 1.6.10 and the gradient and
Laplacian of a scalar field and the divergence and curl of vector fields were derived in
terms of these coordinates. The calculus of higher order tensors can also be cast in terms
of these coordinates.
For example, from 1.6.30, the gradient of a vector in cylindrical coordinates is
T
gradu u with

1

gradu e r
e z u r e r u e u z e z
e
r
z
r

u
u
1 u r u
r er er
e r e r e r e z
r
r
z
r

u
u
1 u u r
e e r
e e e e z
r
z
r
r
u
u
1 u z
z ez er
e z e z e z e z
z
r
r

(1.14.18)

and from 1.6.30, 1.14.12, the divergence of a tensor in cylindrical coordinates is


{Problem 6}
1 Ar Arz Arr A
A

divA A T rr
e r
z
r
r
r

1 A Az Ar Ar
A

r
e
z
r
r

(1.14.19)

A
1 Az Azz
A

zr zr
e z
z
r
r
r

1.14.5

The Divergence Theorem

The divergence theorem 1.7.12 can be extended to the case of higher-order tensors.
Consider an arbitrary differentiable tensor field Tijk ( x, t ) defined in some finite region of
physical space. Let S be a closed surface bounding a volume V in this space, and let the
outward normal to S be n. The divergence theorem of Gauss then states that

ijk

nk dS
V

Tijk
x k

(1.14.20)

dV

For a second order tensor,

Tn dS div T dV ,
S

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Tij

T n dS x
ij

dV

(1.14.21)

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Section 1.14

One then has the important identities {Problem 7}

TndS div ( T) dV
S

u ndS grad u dV
S

u TndS div (T
S

1.14.6

(1.14.22)

u) dV

Formal Treatment of Tensor Calculus

Following on from 1.6.12, here a more formal treatment of the tensor calculus of fields
is briefly presented.
Vector Gradient

What follows is completely analogous to Eqns. 1.6.46-49.


A vector field v : E 3 V is differentiable at a point x E 3 if there exists a second
order tensor Dv x E such that
vx h v x Dv x h o h

for all h E

(1.14.23)

In that case, the tensor Dv x is called the derivative (or gradient) of v at x (and is given
the symbol vx ).
Setting h w in 1.14.23, where w E is a unit vector, dividing through by and
taking the limit as 0 , one has the equivalent statement
vx w

d
d

v x w for all w E

(1.14.24)

Using the chain rule as in 1.6.11, Eqn. 1.14.24 can be expressed in terms of the
Cartesian basis e i ,
vx w

vi
v
wk e i i e i e j wk e k
x k
x j

(1.14.25)

This must be true for all w and so, in a Cartesian basis,


vx

vi
ei e j
x j

(1.14.26)

which is Eqn. 1.14.3.


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Section 1.14

1.14.7

Problems

1. Consider the vector field v x12 e1 x32 e 2 x 22 e 3 . (a) find the matrix representation of
the gradient of v, (b) find the vector gradv v .
2. If u x1 x 2 x3e1 x1 x 2 e 2 x1e 3 , determine 2 u .
3. Suppose that the displacement field is given by u1 0, u 2 1, u 3 X 1 . By using
gradu , sketch a few (undeformed) line elements of material and their positions in the
deformed configuration.
4. Use the matrix form of gradu and u to show that the definitions
(i) div a tr (grada)
(ii) curla 2 , where is the axial vector of the skew part of grada
agree with the definitions 1.6.17, 1.6.21 given for Cartesian coordinates.
5. Prove the following:
(i)
gradv gradv v grad
(ii)
(iii)
(iv)
(v)

gradu v gradu v gradv u


div u v grad u v (div v )u
curlu v udivv vdivu gradu v gradv u
divA Agrad divA
T

divAv v divA T tr Agradv


(vi)
(vii) divAB AdivB gradA : B
(viii) divAB divAB ABgrad
gradA gradA A grad
(ix)
6. Derive Eqn. 1.14.19, the divergence of a tensor in cylindrical coordinates.
7. Deduce the Divergence Theorem identities in 1.14.22 [Hint: write them in index
notation.]

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